Wanuri Kahiu’s latest movie Rafiki is set to make its worldwide premier at the Cannes Film Festival 2018. It will be the second film by a Kenyan to feature at the festival and the East African nation’s first full length feature.
The Cannes Film Festival held in Cannes, France previews new films of all genres from all around the world and is considered by some to be the leading film festival on planet earth.
The festival committee yesterday announced the films to be screened in 2018 featuring names known by audiences from all over the world like Spike Lee. One name is less familiar worldwide but strikes a chord with followers of film in Kenya; Wanuri Kahiu. Kahiu made a name when her movie From A Whisper, based on the American embassy attacks of 1998, received 12 nominations and earned 5 awards at the 5th Africa Movie Academy Awards in 2009. That was a big splash for the young film maker.
Her next project was Pumzi which was the first Sci-Fi attempt by a Kenyan filmmaker. It followed the story of Asha, a botanist, who thirty five years after World War III aka the water war discovers life outside of her post-apocalyptic underground community. That was a brilliant movie.
Her new feature film has to be one of the most exciting. It started out as Jambula Tree inspired by Monica Arac de Nyeko the Caine Prize 2017 winning story featuring two female protagonists with an “intimate relationship.” The movie now known as Rafiki chronicles the story of two Kenyan girls Kena and Ziki who fall in love with each other and struggle to navigate this love with their families. When they fall in love and the community finds out, the girls are forced to choose between love and safety.
The film marks the acting and screen debut of drummer and visual artist Samantha Mugatsia who stars as Kena, alongside the charismatic, raw talent of actress Sheila Munyiva as Ziki. The young actresses are supported by renowned Kenyan talent Jimmi Gathu, Nini Wacera, Patricia Amira and Dennis Musyoka.
This isn’t the first movie by a Kenyan to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival. That honour went to Vincho Nchogu’s short film The Resurrect which screened in 2009.